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Over 100 GM workers gather for tearful, emotional prayer vigil after losing jobs ahead of Christmas

Hundreds of people attend a prayer vigil in Lordstown, Ohio, for the GM workers who will be laid off. (Image source: WJW-TV video screenshot)

Over 100 General Motors employees and family members gathered outside of the GM Lordstown complex in Lordstown, Ohio, on Thursday for a prayer vigil.

The group converged after news of the company's massive workforce layoff was announced, according to WJW-TV.

On Monday, the company announced that several plants in North America — including the plant in Lordstown — would be shuttered in 2019.

About 15,000 people are expected to be impacted by the facility closures. The Lordstown plant employs about 1,400 workers who will lose their jobs if the plant isn't repurposed.

What are the details?

In video obtained by the station, vigil attendees prayed and hugged one another. Some of them even wept.

Norman Perry, one of the workers, said that he and his co-workers were simply trying to get through the holidays.

"Everyone just wants to keep working right now and get through this," he said. "Christmas is coming; they want to enjoy Christmas.

"This is a time," he added, "where we should be lifted up. We're just trying to lift spirits and that's what this is all about."

The station reported that union members also addressed the crowd, who professed that they were attempting to save both the plant and the employees' jobs.

What did GM say?

In a statement about the workforce reduction, GM said:

The company is transforming its global workforce to ensure it has the right skill sets for today and the future, while driving efficiencies through the utilization of best-in-class tools. Actions are being taken to reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15 percent, which includes 25 percent fewer executives to streamline decision making.

The company expects that such workforce reductions will save the company $6 billion by the end of 2020.

“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”

What did the president say?

President Donald Trump weighed in on the closures on Monday, voicing his displeasure at the company's decision, and threatening to end subsidies for electric cars in response to the news.

Speaking to reporters, the president said he had spoken with Barra, and told her that the U.S. has “done a lot for General Motors.”

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted his disappointment over the closures and vowed to protect American workers.

He wrote, "Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China. The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including for electric cars."

"General Motors made a big China bet years ago when they built plants there (and in Mexico)," he added. "[D]on’t think that bet is going to pay off. I am here to protect America’s Workers!"

You can read more about the details of the closures and layoffs here.

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